Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Blair says NO to Iraq withdrawal

Tony Blair has rejected Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell's call for UK troops to start a five-month "staged withdrawal" in May, with all British forces clear of Iraq by the end of October.
Mr Blair told the Commons such an "arbitrary timetable" was unworkable.

Mr Blair added: "our forces are there under a United Nations resolution, with the full support of the government of Iraq. Pulling out now would send the most disastrous signal to the people of Iraq".

Sir Menzies, speaking at prime minister's questions, said: "If he feels so strongly, he should come to debate these issues. There is nothing more important." The Prime Minister's official spokesman said it was "not the practice for Mr Blair to lead foreign affairs debates. He has made a commitment to the Commons to make a statement when Operation Sinbad is finished and assessed. That will be the appropriate point."

The total number of UK troops killed in operations in Iraq has risen to 130 after a soldier was killed by a roadside bomb while on patrol in Basra on 21 January. According to UN estimates, 34,000 Iraqis had been killed in 2006 alone.

Q. Should UK troops start a five-month staged withdrawal in May?

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